CHICAGO -- The Cubs will move their Class A Midwest League team closer to Chicago, agreeing to a new player development contract on Wednesday with Kane County.
The Cougars' ballpark is 45 miles west of Chicago. The Cubs' Midwest League affiliate had been in Peoria, which was about a three-hour drive.
"I'm a big fan of having as many affiliates as possible close by the home city," said Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations. "It creates a lot of efficiencies with rehabs and allows the front office and staff to see the team play a little bit more often. It also gives our players a feel for the market before there's too much pressure on them. Obviously, it's good for the affiliate with the link to the hometown team."
The Cubs also announced on Wednesday they have renewed their contract with Class A Daytona and Class A Boise. All three contracts run through the 2014 season.
"We are pleased to reach agreements with Daytona, Kane County and Boise," said Jason McLeod, the Cubs' senior vice president, scouting and player development. "The players who have come through Daytona and Boise have spoken highly of those cities and their fans. With Kane County, it's exciting to know we now have a Cubs affiliate right in our backyard. We look forward to successful relationships with each of these affiliates."
The Kane County Cougars have made 13 postseason appearances in their 22-season history, which began in 1991 as an affiliate of the Orioles ('91-92). Kane County also has been affiliated with the Marlins ('93-2002), Athletics ('03-10) and Royals ('11-12).
The Cougars played a game at Wrigley Field in 2008 and '10 as part of the Cubs' "Road To Wrigley" series.
"We are extremely excited about our new relationship with the Chicago Cubs," said Cougars general manager Curtis Haug. "The close proximity between both organizations will be mutually beneficial in numerous ways. We believe that the Cubs organization and their philosophies about the Minor Leagues -- including scouting, player development and involvement in the community -- are a fantastic fit for our franchise."
Daytona completed its 20th season of affiliation with the Cubs this year. In that time, the club has won five Florida State League championships (1995, 2000, '04, '08 and '11) and hosted the FSL All-Star Game in '07. In '12, Daytona boasted seven FSL All-Stars and advanced 15 players to Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.
"Being part of the Cubs family, and entering our third decade as a Cubs affiliate, is a joy and a privilege," said Daytona Cubs owner Andy Rayburn. "The Cubs are a first-class organization. One of the primary goals of the Daytona Cubs is to make Daytona Beach each player's favorite stop on the way to the Majors."
Boise has been the short-season Class A affiliate of the Cubs since the 2001 season. The new agreement will ensure a 14-year relationship between the Cubs and the Hawks. Boise has made back-to-back Northwest League postseason appearances, and has qualified for the playoffs in six of the 12 years as a Cubs affiliate, including league championships in '02 and '04.
"We are so excited that the Cubs have shown their support for the Boise area," said Boise president/general manager Todd Rahr. "The loyalty they are showing the Hawks and patience they are giving us to improve the facilities here says a lot for their dedication to player development and to our great city and surrounding area."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.